The most popular consumer broadband services are DSL and Cable for fixed locations and 3G for mobile use. 4G wireless is starting to become available, with CLEAR promoting it for both fixed and mobile use. Out in the boonies, Satellite broadband brings in a signal that you can’t get with wires. The fastest service, fiber optic, is deployed in selected areas by Verizon’s FiOS. It should also be noted that there are still consumers embracing dial-up access either because of cost or a very limited need for the Internet.
Businesses also have DSL, Cable, 3G and 4G mobile services, and Satellite Internet available to them. Like the consumer versions, you get a price break by sharing a bandwidth pool with other users. That means that the speed you’ll experience at any given time depends on how many other users are on the service and what they are doing.
There are a couple of features that interest business users much more than consumers. One is symmetrical bandwidth. Shared resource Internet access solutions typically offer much higher download speeds than upload speeds. That’s because most people are primarily reading web pages or downloading material such as books, music or movies. A limited upload speed is all you need to send commands to the servers providing this content. Businesses, however, often own the servers as well as use them. If you are sending material up to a server or another user as much as you are receiving such material, then a symmetrical bandwidth evens things out. Symmetrical DSL (SDSL) is typically available to business users but not consumers.
Businesses may also want static IP addresses. These are needed if you are running a server, so that other users on the Internet can easily find it through the DNS system. Normal consumer connections use dynamic IP addresses that are assigned from a pool owned by the Internet Service Provider and change from time to time. Most users have no ideal what IP address they are using and couldn’t care less as long as it works. IT managers, however, may well want static IP addresses for the servers, VoIP and VPN systems on their networks.
Many businesses may find that shared bandwidth causes way too much performance variation for their needs. The solution is dedicated bandwidth services that are generally available for business addresses but not residential users or home offices. These services include T1 lines, Ethernet over Copper, DS3, Ethernet over Fiber, SONET and Fixed Wireless. As business services, these dedicated Internet access solutions also have symmetrical bandwidth with equal upload and download speeds.
The other thing that should be noted about dedicated business bandwidth services is that they often come with SLAs or Service Level Agreements. Unlike the “best effort” offers for consumer grade broadband, a service level agreement spells out performance parameters and remedies if those are not met. Often, the commitment is for availability plus performance characteristics such as jitter, latency and packet loss.
Does your company need new or expanded Internet connectivity, or are you simply interested in seeing if better pricing is available at the bandwidth level you already have? If so, get pricing and availability of bandwidth solutions from a variety of business Internet access companies.